Betta fish have a lung-like labyrinth organ that allows them to breathe oxygen through atmospheric air as well as through the water. In their natural habitat, Bettas’ ability to breathe air allows them to swim in shallow water between many kinds of water plants, and rise to the surface to feed on larvae and plankton.
What’s in the bowl?
When introducing your Betta into a fish tank bowl, create an environment similar to his natural habitat. This setup will not only look beautiful, but it will also keep your Betta happy and healthy. Add appropriate plants and decorative ornaments into the Betta’s tank that resemble his native waters.
Choosing the plants!
When recreating the Betta’s habitat, choose either plastic ornamental plants, real plants, which help generate oxygen in the water for the Betta’s usage, or a combination of both.
The best plants for your Betta’s safety and for the beauty of your aquarium are:
Plastic: Plastic plants offer many benefits. While they do not produce oxygen for the water like natural plants do, there is no dirt cleanup and they require minimal care. With such a large variety of types and colors, plastic plants can really beautify your aquarium. If you decide to use plastic plants for your Betta’s tank, make sure that you clean them every time you change the water.
Natural: One of the more common ornamental objects used in Betta fish tanks is natural water plants. There are many varieties from which to choose with some types more suitable for this species than others. If you decide to purchase natural plants, go to a reputable fish dealer who will know which are the best for your Betta.
The roots of natural aquatic plants usually grow downward into the water and you should check them regularly. If they start cramping your Betta’s movement due to the plant’s size, or if they appear to have a soggy brown look, remove them.
Silk: Like plastic aquarium plants, silk plants provide a relatively no-hassle decoration for your tank and can make your betta feel more at home. Although silk plants do not produce oxygen like natural plants, the leaves are softer than plastic plants. Because silk plants have no hard edges and are more lifelike in their movement, they are less likely than plastic plants to catch or snag your betta’s long, flowing fins.
One of the best possible choices for your Betta is a plant called Chinese evergreen. Other plants you can use include philodendrons and the ever-popular peace water lilies, which sit at the surface of the tank. Philodendrons are ornamental plants that are usually found in swamps or riverbanks and there are many varieties from which to choose.
The photos plant is another safe plant for your Betta. This plant is usually found in terrariums and fish aquariums and is ideal for indoor setups because it does not require much light. The water sprites and java fern plants are also other acceptable plants you can use in your Betta’s recreated habitat.
What do my plants need to thrive in my betta aquarium?
There’s no need to be intimidated about using live plants in your aquarium. Following a few, simple guidelines will make growing live plants – and keeping them alive – a snap.
Temperature: Are you heating your tank? The answer to that will determine what types of plants will do well in your tank. Some live plants thrive in a heated environment while others will die in a few days.
Lighting: Plants need a light source in order to survive in your aquarium, and there are two types of betta aquarium lighting you can use: incandescent or fluorescent. Experts favor fluorescent because incandescent lights put off too much heat, which can cause problems for your temperature-sensitive betta. Even fluorescent lighting should be monitored so it’s not raising the temperature in your aquarium. With fluorescent lights, it’s best to use a 15-watt bulb for a 10-gallon tank for 10 hours a day; 20 watts for a 15-gallon tank for 10 hours a day; or a 20-watt bulb for a 20-gallon tank for 12 hours a day.
Fertilizer: Most plants need fertilizer to survive under water. Fertilizers plugs, tablets and liquids are available at pet stores.
What other types of plants should I use?
Vallisneria: Commonly called eelgrass, tape grass or simply vallis, this freshwater aquatic plant needs little light and can survive even when temperatures fall to 59 degrees Fahrenheit. Some experts say vallis is the best live plant for a betta aquarium.
Amazon Sword: This plant is cultivated for use in freshwater aquariums and was first exported from Brazil in the 20th century, hence the name. It has long, slightly oval-shaped leaves and needs moderate light and water temperatures between 72 degrees and 82 degrees Fahrenheit.
Corkscrew Tiger Val: The long, narrow, flat leaves of this plant twist, turn and curl beautifully in the tank. It grows in most any light and needs a moderately rich substrate.
Elodea: These hardy aquatic plants are often called “waterweeds” and are frequently used in aquariums because they will grow and thrive in a wide range of conditions.
Foxtail: The many, delicate leaves on Foxtail stalks make them look like, well, the bushy tail of a fox. The plants do best with moderate light and temperatures between 72 and 82 degrees.
Java Fern: These broad-leafed plants are popular for aquariums because they’re easy to care for. They grow in moderate light or in shaded areas and thrive in a wider range of temperatures than other plants – between 68 and 82 degrees.
There are many other types of live plants that will do well in your betta’s tank, such as Hornwart, Hairgrass, Hygro, Water Lettuce and Willow Moss. Whether you opt to use plastic, silk or live plants, your betta will feel right at home, almost like he’s splashing around his ancestral rice-paddy stomping grounds.
What plants are in your aquarium?